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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2240 on: July 11, 2023, 11:26:20 PM »
why did you post the spoderverse 2 review twice?
Because It is! For one thing, it's more of what made the first one so good - really fun and inventive action, beautiful animation, and terrific voice acting. But something else that I think really speaks to the quality of this movie, especially when comparing it to other fairly recent movies/TV shows with similar premises, is that you don't really need to be all that familiar with the various spoderman properties being included, referenced, or parodied to still be invested in it. It's a nice bonus if you are, of course, but the story and characters are compelling enough to carry you through the movie even if none of the other miscellaneous spoderman stuff registers. Similarly, there's a dense layer of hidden jokes, background details, and Easter eggs that observant viewers can catch, but unlike that stupid fucking Mario movie, you don't have to spot them to enjoy the movie. Even with only a surface level  of engagement, you'll still be seeing a movie that's funny, frantic, and looks great.

I really have just one problem with the movie that I feel is worth mentioning. The first act of this movie leans heavily into a capeshit trope that I think we as a society need to permanently retire - the hero whose duties make them late for or entirely miss important social obligations, inevitably leading to an uncomfortable scene where they get angrily lectured about how selfish and lazy they are. Oh, of course they aren't really selfish and lazy, but the hero can't explain that without revealing their secret identity! The dramatic tension is palpable! Stop it with this shit. It's been done a million times by now, and has never been anything other than unpleasant and deeply frustrating to watch play out. There are so many other ways that maintaining a secret identity could create tension with loved ones without having to fall back on "they're late for and/or miss appointments a lot" every single time. Like what this same movie does with Gwen and her father, you know? That was a good idea. And what makes the whole thing worse is that I actually really like this portrayal of Miles's parents, both of whom are funny, quirky characters with distinctive personalities. They deserve better than to be wasted on this Baby's First Capeshit melodrama.

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Offline honk

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2241 on: July 12, 2023, 12:43:38 AM »
That's embarrassing. I had meant to delete the first post.
ur retartet but u donut even no it and i walnut tell u y

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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2242 on: July 12, 2023, 09:44:46 PM »
The Batshit Odyssey at last reaches a new milestone with the finale of the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale trilogy!

The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan)

With Christopher Nolan’s third Batman feature, the twice-failed attempt at a Batman trilogy was finally complete. Previously, Tim Burton stepped away, or was rather forced out, after his first two films were essentially considered to be too dark to merchandise to children (domestic terrorism and a guy with half his face burnt off r totes kool 4 kidz tho, sez WB execz). Joel Schumacher’s tenuously connected neon-drenched apotheoses of confusion and stupidity likewise failed to produce a much vaunted third entry before the executive branch, well, executed it. The trilogy is a strange, arbitrary standard for franchise legitimacy, but one which is predominant, especially in modern blockbuster cinema. Regardless, some credit must be given to Nolan for telling a ‘complete’ Batman story with a beginning, middle, and end. However, the connections between the three, and especially between the first two and the third, often leave me wondering why they needed to form a ‘complete’ story at all. Each one can more or less be read episodically, the only things connecting them (Batman excluded) really being the plot equivalent of Blu Tack, yet there is a third Batman movie and I’m committed to reviewing it for some reason.

It’s surprisingly difficult to talk about the third entry in a series the parts of which display impressive levels of homogeneity. It has the same platitudinous dialogue, the same mediocre action, the same everywhere-and-nowhere present day metropolitan setting of its predecessors, perhaps differing from them only in that the level of embarrassment it displays in its approach to adapting its sources far outstrips theirs. This is compounded by the sense that none of it is bad as such, but that it is remarkably unremarkable in its every detail. For a movie about a wackily voiced roidboi playing football with a nuke, very little of what occurs in its 160 minutes is even slightly arresting or engaging. Here Nolan may have produced the most soporific blockbuster hit imaginable. I specify hit because of course there have been many megabudget snorefests that didn’t really go anywhere numbers-wise. The Dark Knight Rises is not only spectacularly boring, it made over $1bn globally at the box office as well. There’s no accounting for taste, of course, and naturally the sequel to the massively popular The Dark Knight was bound to do good business.

The attempt at a byzantine plot is largely successful insofar as its constituent parts are woven together in a way that more or less flows, but in the main it is incredibly hard to care about anything that happens this time around. The caped crusader is more or less shorn of his connections to anyone and anything, and while the film outwardly states that this is the aftermath of the eight years following the death of Harvey Dent, for which Batman took the rap, the truth is that as soon as Rachel Dawes was killed there was a sudden loss of connection between Batman and the world around him. In this film nothing much seems to matter, and even when Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Talia is revealed as the true villain near the end, the response is not one of shock, but ‘so what?’ And perhaps, if one is in a charitable mood, ‘why?’ Are we surprised to learn that Ra’s had a child? It’s quite rare for warlords to have no children, many throughout history have had dozens with sometimes as many different mothers, or perhaps even hundreds through a kind of forced adoption by which they owned the children of their conquered foes. The question ‘why?’ is actually appropriate to ask in the following sense: why in the world would Talia, given all that she tells us about her father abandoning her and her mother to rot in what is supposedly the most hellish prison on Earth, want to take up her father’s cause and avenge his death? I guess Hell Prison changes you.

The attempt to tie the series together and come full circle with Talia’s reveal only really serves to lay bare the film’s heaviest issue. While Talia provides the promised twist, that is essentially all she does. She is barely even a character, which is a shame given the long-standing and complicated relationship she shares with Batman in the comics. But she is one quasi-character in a band of several, and her uncompelling nature is hardly out of place. Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s long-suffering butler, is perhaps the closest the film comes to writing a character that doesn’t merely serve as a plot device, but even he is ultimately a doll to be moved about at will for the sake of complicating what little we actually see of Bruce’s emotional life. When he leaves because he can no longer stand to see Bruce destroy himself, what we essentially lose is but one mouthpiece for the Nolan brothers’ hamfisted dialogue. I cannot think of a character in this film who actually speaks to another character rather than to the audience, every line laden as it is with exposition that we need to know to fill in the eight year in-universe gap between the events of The Dark Knight and Batman’s less than triumphant return.

Batman in this film is a worn out husk of a man, in fact he is more or less just Bruce Wayne at this point. His injuries are too severe for him to really do much of anything except hobble about his gigantic house, or the wing of it in which he has sequestered himself. Some parallels can be made to Frank Miller’s grotesque and abysmal The Dark Knight Strikes Again, in which an ageing Batman spends a decent chunk of time recuperating from injuries that would have killed or permanently paralysed anyone else. Previously, the series featured other aspects of this comic, like the Bat-a-like vigilantes from The Dark Knight, who more or less mirror the Sons of Batman militia. The nods are there, but one is left wondering: why doesn’t Bats Bats Baby have a teenage girl sidekick who cosplays as a malformed leopard? This cherry picking will not stand! But Nolan is a man of taste after all, you can’t simply include everything from this one terrible comic he seems to be a wee bit fixated on. Chris, if you’re as embarrassed by comic books as this film would suggest, I highly recommend reading better ones for inspiration next time you decide to do a superhero movie. (Like today’s sponsor, Speedball. He bounces with balls! Smash that like button and hit the bell icon for more!)

Well, there might not be a Catgirl Carrie Kelley but there is a Catwoman Selina Kyle. And boy what a basically kinda sorta character-ish person she is! As was the case in Batman Returns, she is the taunting temptress that seduces both Batman and Bruce Wayne, but here she isn’t a dark mirror of the Bat duality, instead playing the femme fatale master thief role pretty straight. Her plot arc resembles that of Catwoman in Batman: Arkham City, released the previous year, with her plan to leave the crumbling Gotham thwarted at the last moment by her affection for Batman. In this film she is more a mirror of Talia, shadow-bound and mysterious, deadly but with a taste for vengeance that is fundamentally tempered by some sense of self-preservation. Like the eponymous man-eater of Zola’s Nana, her use, abuse, and devaluation of others is a manifestation of a combination of self-interest and class struggle, informed by a background of poverty and with the rich as its primary target. The thematics around Catwoman and her relationship with Bane’s quasi-French revolution form what is very probably the most subtle and interesting part of the film, but it is ultimately a background concern.

The film’s main villain Bane is largely without character, making this the second time he has appeared in a movie that doesn’t seem to care about who he is in the source material. In the comics he is a larger-than-life luchador hopped up on super-roids, while in this film he is a fairly normally proportioned dude with a mask and a silly voice. Much of course has already been said about the voice Tom Hardy employs in this film, a fine addition to his ever-growing portfolio of baffling accent choices, so I will simply repeat that it is silly. His ordinariness is perhaps intended to make a point, that this isn’t a world of superheroes and villains, but one of men, limited by their physicality and bound by not just their own history but the history of the world. There is value and dignity, potentially, in this approach, but Bane, like his predecessors in this and previous Batman series, has a taste for needless theatricality that yet makes him something other than just a man. He is a sort of mythological figure, one known only by name and who seems to shift from shadow to shadow across the world, unseen but for the carnage he leaves in his wake. The film would have him, or he would have himself, before the public, a sort of symbol of opposition to system and order, yet his first act within a ‘liberated’ Gotham is to impose a tyrannical order. A comment on the hypocrisy of revolution? Bane as Robespierre? Perhaps, but this is beside the point. Bane as he exists in this film has no more need of being Bane than Talia has of being Talia, indeed the entire thing is a Batman film in name only.

Batman or no, the greatest insult to the audience’s intelligence and patience is save for the grand finale. Batman flies a nuclear device that is primed to go off in mere seconds far out over the water where it can do no harm to anyone. Anyone, that is, but him! We are led to believe that he has sacrificed himself in order to save the city, and this truly would have been a satisfying conclusion, a final myth-making act of heroism that proved nothing more or less than his belief in his duty as a protector of Gotham, that he was after all a man, but that a man can effect lasting change in the world. Within a couple of minutes the film undoes this in its entirety by showing us that, not only is Bruce Wayne alive and well, he more or less planned everything. Oh Bruce! [audience laughter] Early in the film, Alfred tells Bruce that, once a year during the time that Bruce was gone (see Batman Begins), he went holidaying in Florence, and he would sit outside a certain café and look across the way hoping to see Bruce sat with a woman. With minimal acknowledgement they would briefly glance at each other, and in so doing Alfred would know that Bruce had moved on from the life of torment he had lived from childhood in Gotham, never to return—Alfred’s happy ending to an unhappy story. Cut back to the end, and a close-up of Alfred in tears before Bruce’s grave, blaming himself for Bruce’s death. Two minutes later, here’s Alfred at a certain café in Florence and gee boy howdy, whaddya know, shucks and/or perhaps maybe even possibly a little bit pshaw, who should be sitting across the way but Bruce and his girlfriend Selina Kyle? Oh Bruce! [audience laughter intensifies] And it was then that Alfred knew that everything would be alright.

Fuck. Off.

That about wraps up this pile of horse shit with a neat little bow. There is a great deal that I haven’t touched upon, but so many of The Dark Knight Returns’ issues are mere repetitions of old mistakes, lessons unlearned from prior endeavour, that it seems unnecessary to add however many more thousands of words to detail every single objection. My concluding thoughts rather appropriately return to an old objection. I really do find Christopher Nolan’s constant embarrassment at his source material so very very irritating. Why even bother making it a Batman movie if all you’re really going for is an implausible modern day revolution story, narrowly thwarted by a do-gooder vigilante and the only two intelligent cops who exist? Just imagine, the 2012 Les Misérables movie could have been un film de Christopher Nolan! Just replace Hugh Jackman with Christian Bale and you’re basically there! It’s even got Anne Hathaway! I am approximately two thirds joking. But really, what difference does it make which work of fiction you adapt for the screen if the particulars of character and relationship and time and place and story are totally arbitrary? You might as well have just made up something completely original instead of needlessly fulfilling some duty to finish out the trilogy, as if the word and concept Trilogy came down to this world in the form of divine mandate, never to be gainsaid by mere mortals. For all that I complain and throw shade, as the kids say, hindsight teaches us the valuable lesson that things can always get worse. I would take, Star Wars style, another two trilogies of Nolan’s Batman over the Snyderian tidal wave of shit that is the DCEU. So you know, swings and roundabouts. Normally I end these things with a joke, but not this time. That’s it. Go away.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2023, 09:51:41 PM by Crudblud »

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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2243 on: July 15, 2023, 11:31:30 AM »
A new dawn for Batman is upon us, but as they say, the night is darkest before the dawn, and boy oh boy what a pre-dawn we've got to get through first. That's right, it's time for...

BATTOSHITTO GAIDEN: MAN OBU SHITĪRU
Man of Steel (dir. Zack Snyder)

Ten years ago, Warner Bros. execs looked over at the MCU and saw the quality and brilliance of how much money it was making, and they thought to themselves: you know, the Dark Knight trilogy sure did make us a lot of money, but what if, get this, what if also Superman??? Ka-ching! the members of the board exclaimed in unison. All was rosy and bright, but then came the problem: who will be the creative director of this project? After all, such an undertaking requires careful planning and forethought. Perhaps what they needed, they thought, was an auteur, someone who could bring a singular vision to bear on a franchise that would span many titles, characters, and settings, all connected but different, all unique but unified. On the other hand, you want an industry titan, someone with a proven track record at the box office who also has the grounding of experience working on a host of big budget productions that might suggest they would be capable of managing something of such magnitude as this. Enter Zack Snyder, a guy whose previous cinematic accomplishments include having made some stuff. Of course I am being just a mite unfair. Snyder enjoyed huge commercial success with his first two films, especially the second, 2007’s much memed 300, which made back its budget ten times over. Watchmen, his adaptation of the much beloved Alan Moore comic, is where things started to go south, with a box office return less than 1.5 times its budget. And, prior to Man of Steel, his last feature Sucker Punch just barely made even. Given all of this, his appointment to the position of creative overseer of the DCEU, and director of all its mainline features, comes across as just a tiny bit baffling. It reminds me of the political cartoon depicting the big-talking but somewhat incompetent Michael Gove pleading with then Prime Minister David Cameron to let him fly a fighter jet as part of efforts to repel an alien invasion on the basis that he a) ‘wrote two articles about planes’ for the Times, and b) has ‘strong opinions about aliens’. In any case, Snyder was what Warner Bros. chose and Snyder is very much what they got. Unfortunately, we got it too.

Man of Steel is the first mainstream Superman film which neither stars Christopher Reeve nor is intended as a continuation of Reeve’s character. The DCEU is entirely its own continuity and it begins with first principles, which is appropriate given that Superman himself will become a Christ of sorts within it. So we immediately go back to basics with a complete origin story, detailing the fall of the planet Krypton and the exodus of, among others, Kal El, who would be found in a field by farmers Jonathan and Martha Kent, from whom he would receive the name Clark Kent. So far I’m giving away nothing you can’t find out—with, as it turns out, eerily similar phrasing—in ten seconds on Wikipedia. This entire Krypton sequence is often singled out for praise even from the people who are otherwise dismissive of the film, and indeed the DCEU generally. I will readily admit that it is a visually striking sequence in terms of its art design, even if it, like the rest of the film, is practically devoid of colour, but almost all of its other elements seem to fall short. As I watched the mostly CGI zoom zoom kaboom antics of the first twenty minutes unfold, I was beginning to wonder why exactly I felt unmoved by what was essentially a simple (i.e.: hard to fuck up) story about two parents who, knowing they were about to die, moved heaven and earth to save their child. When the film picked up with Clark Kent as a grown adult on Earth, I began to realise that the problem was exactly this: Zack Snyder has the aesthetic sensibility of an early 2000s nu-metal music video. The opening sequence has more problems than its shot choices and colour grading, however. For one thing, it introduces a number of characters one after the other, giving us just enough information to piece together their causes and intentions but not their reasons for supporting and holding them. In other words, the backstory needs a backstory, which is always a sure sign of a brilliant narrative mind at work.

Speaking of narrative brilliance, let’s skip to the end of the film. The common thread running through the vast majority of superhero comics is the question of whether it is ever right to kill. The morality on display is simple: not killing is what separates Superman, Batman, and many others, from the villains they fight. It doesn’t matter how many times the Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum or how many people he hurts or kills, Batman’s belief in redemption is absolute and incorruptible. Batman is often cited as the more relatable hero, delivering that ideal of incorruptibility to the common man in a way that Superman cannot. Superman is, as I mentioned above, a Christ-like figure, and he can perhaps only be as good as he is precisely because he is not really human. In this film, Superman is ‘forced’—and I use scare quotes with good reason—to kill Zod. At the climax of the film, Zod has lost everything he was fighting for, his hopes of building a new Krypton on Earth are all but lost forever, but instead of giving up he decides to just kill people and force Superman to watch. The concept of forcing something on someone in this context is a weird one. Supes has Zod in a hold, and the only weapons Zod can use are his laser eyes. For some reason Supes can’t just, you know, fly up into the sky and let Zod laser eyes into the void until he tires himself out, so Supes breaks his neck. Comic storylines in which superheroes resort to killing are generally treated with a great deal of care, with great attention to detail to make sure that killing doesn’t just seem like the lazy way out of the situation. Rather, the reader should be able to accept that, in this one instance, killing becomes a necessary evil which will prevent mass death or something of similar magnitude. Here there is absolutely no reason for Superman to kill Zod, he could have done an extremely wide variety of things to deal with Zod slowly turning his head towards the dastardly deed of singeing a guy’s shirtsleeve. Snap. Yell. Shake it off. Become a journalist in the city you helped raze to the ground with all zero of your qualifications for any line of work whatsoever.

Snyder’s fatalism throughout the film likewise leads to other needless deaths. Jonathan Kent decides he wants out about a third of the way into the film, and just makes a sort of ‘nah’ gesture towards his son—who is entirely capable of saving him and everyone else from the danger—as a tornado sucks him on up to heaven. Later, when Clark explains to Lois Lane why he let his father die, the stupidity of reasoning is laid bare in a way that is neither redundant nor complementary to the actual death scene. Snyder loves the Dramatic Moment and he doesn’t really seem to care what he has to sacrifice to get it. For him, characters, reason, and indeed braincells are all valid offerings to the god of theatre, and he will present them as loudly as he can. Metropolis itself, while initially its skyscrapers fall victim to Zod’s forces, is eventually battered through and through by none other than the Man of Steel himself. It’s okay though, just show a close-up of a Daily Planet journalist saying—as if the audience hasn’t yet realised that Superman is, in fact, the hero—‘he saved us’ while wearing the most gormless facial expression possible, and everything’s gonna be alright! Yes, again, given how much of the city he destroys because smashing people into buildings looks cool, you could be forgiven for thinking that, while he isn’t a villain as such, he is kind of a feckless idiot. There is of course an argument to be made that Superman never had to face a threat like this before, and that he therefore should not be judged as one might a mature and well established superhero.  While he himself is technically a first contact for humanity, he knew nothing of his origins until his teens, and he didn’t discover the truth about his homeworld and his people until he was an adult. All this, however, is so much yada yada yada at the side of: I think anyone would know that smashing up your kitchen to catch a mouse, in the manner of Tom & Jerry, is ultimately just going to reflect poorly on you.

And speaking of smashing things up, let’s talk about the action scenes. I cannot think of a single action sequence in this film that isn’t chopped or diced or julienne fried as badly as or worse than those in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, which is saying a lot. It’s sort of like DragonBall Z, except instead of two fighters being so fast that they disappear into a tangle of wiggling and coincidentally easy to animate lines, the camera angle changes so quickly that, while you know a fight is occurring, half the time you can’t tell who’s punching whom, nor whether someone’s getting in good hits. The entire time, the film is yelling at you THIS IS A COOL FIGHT LOOK AT HOW COOL THIS FIGHT IS GUYS IT’S FUCKING COOOOOOOOOOOOL, but you would have to be hard pressed for entertainment to take it at its word. Granted, you are watching Man of Steel, so maybe you do actually have to concede on that point. Part of the problem with the scale of the action is that there isn’t really a point where anyone is shown having a normal fight with anyone else. The crashy bangy punchy zoomy zoom is just there at some point, there is no build up to it, it springs into existence spontaneously. The formula goes like this: frame one is a guy in a plaid shirt, frame two is space punch zap zaboom, frame three is a woman gawking teary-eyed at Superman because literally every woman in this movie is a damsel in distress. With, however, the notable exception of Fighty Philosophy Lady, who explains that morality is an evolutionary weakness. Everybody in the audience furiously claps while maintaining an awe-struck look on their face. This level of profundity is a by-product of what uncritically reading Ayn Rand does to your brain.

So that’s Man of Steel. It is an unbelievably dull and lifeless movie wrapped up in and warped by its own sense of self-importance. It makes overtures to philosophical ideas but largely fails to make them cohere between theory and practice; arguably Zod is the only character who actually stands by his own principles when push comes to shove, and he’s a genocidal maniac. The weird thing is that this is the good Zack Snyder, the Zack Snyder who has people around him who are willing to say ‘no’ every once in a while. Recently I’ve seen people saying that, in the wake of the four hour long Zack Snyder’s Justice League, there should be ‘Snyder cuts’ of his other DCEU films. I would like to caution people who are on board with this idea: it is a terrible idea. It would be a better idea to start drumming up grassroots support for Snyder’s dream project of adapting Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. That’s how bad this idea is. And I should point out, Snyder is currently citing concerns about political polarisation in society as a reason to keep the project on the back burner for the time being. But you can show him, you Snyderians, you can make his dreams come true! Don’t make him come back to this, please, whatever you do. It’s bad enough as it is. Let’s all respectfully move on now. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s me getting the fuck out of here! Peace.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2023, 11:33:58 AM by Crudblud »

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Offline juner

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2244 on: July 19, 2023, 08:57:51 PM »
mission impossible 69: part 1

it was heckin' fun and the stunts and action are legit. probably 20-30 minutes too long in runtime.

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2245 on: July 21, 2023, 05:23:06 PM »
doctor j rob and the crew (2023)

yep, this is the one. rip all other movies in current year.

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2246 on: August 08, 2023, 01:52:09 PM »
Just seen The Flash. It was a bit wonky in a lot of places but I have to say overall it was pretty good. I don't understand the hate it's getting, certainly the most entertaining DC movie I've seen in a while.

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2247 on: August 08, 2023, 10:41:23 PM »
Barbie: pretty dumb but Margot is pretty and Ryan is cool. Some funny and cute parts.

OPPENHEIMER was pretty good. cillian murphy is cool. the bomb scene was kinda underwhelming for all the hype imo

mission impossible 69 part 1: yes
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How do you know you weren't literally given metaphorical wings?

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2248 on: November 12, 2023, 02:09:11 AM »
RoboCop (José Padilha, 2014)

Not nearly as bad as I was expecting, but still not a very good movie overall. Its biggest flaw is that it's far more interested in the sci-fi elements at play than it is in its titular character. Everything is explained, everything is debated, and everything is commented on by a team of scientists. That last point is especially annoying in the pivotal scenes where Alex Murphy is struggling to regain his humanity, and any mood or atmosphere that might be developing is ruined by constant cutting to the scientists watching him so they explain what he's doing and what it means for him. This is a movie that wants to be smart, but still treats its viewers like morons. Being more explicit with the science also hurts the movie when it goes against its own rules, as Murphy on at least two occasions manages to just force his way past his programming through the power of bullshit. That wouldn't necessarily have been a big deal if the science had been more vague, like in the original - although it's worth pointing out that Murphy in the original never breaks his programming at all - but the movie makes it a problem because it takes its science so seriously.

While the original's critiques of capitalism, policing, and the media feel timeless, the reboot dates itself immediately by being yet another 2010s action movie that devotes itself to criticizing the U.S. military's use of drones, and yet doesn't really have much to say about it beyond indicating that it's bad. I'm probably being a bit unfair about this, because this weird trend hadn't quite been beaten into the ground by 2014, but it still feels like such a boring choice of theme. It doesn't help that I've never been convinced by the anti-drone backlash that was so fashionable in the 2010s, and I'm convinced that most of it was being spread by people who didn't actually understand what drones are and how they work. The closest the movie comes to some proper satire is Samuel Jackson's talk show infotainer character, but he's not over-the-top enough for it to properly register. There are plenty of talking heads on TV these days who are far more ridiculous than him.

And then there's the main character. Holy hell, the costume is fucking awful. The drop-down visor is bad enough, but the real kiss of death is it being all black. It's such a fucking douchey look. There's no better word to describe it. The funny thing is that the movie seems to recognize that the all-black look is a dumb, juvenile way to try and make him look cool and edgy, and clearly frames it as such by having it be the demand of an out-of-touch asshole CEO, but...they still do it. Pointing out that you know what you're doing is bad isn't a great defense when you just go right ahead and do it anyway. As for Alex Murphy himself, he's fine. I don't think the movie gets off to a great start with him by portraying him as an aggressive cowboy cop who threatens informants at gunpoint, but he's at least shown to be a loving husband and father, which goes a long way towards making him sympathetic. Focusing more on his wife and son isn't a bad idea for the reboot as a way to differentiate itself from the original, too.

That is, as long as it's done well. Unfortunately, this movie can't think of anything to do with the character of Clara Murphy beyond have her be a weeping widow, someone who cries, complains, cries some more, and then complains some more. That is her character. She is there to look sad, scold Alex for riding off to do awesome RoboCop things, and to become a damsel in distress at the last minute, because why not throw another cliché in at that point? Regarding the part about her complaining, it doesn't matter that technically she's in the right all along. It's like why Skyler from Breaking Bad was such a contentious character. The movie is called RoboCop and it's marketed as being about RoboCop doing awesome things, so if you have a character who's trying to stop RoboCop from doing awesome things (as strongly visually represented by Clara stepping in front of Murphy's motorcycle and pleading with him to stop fighting crime and just go home), you're setting up the audience to dislike her as a fun-ruining killjoy. I'll grant that it's tough to portray a character who wants the hero to stop doing what the audience wants him to do, but they definitely could have handled it more carefully than they did in this movie.

There's probably a lot more I could criticize the movie for, but one detail I've got to highlight because it really bugs me is the gender-flipping of the character of Anne Lewis, Murphy's partner in the original. A lot of action movies for whatever reason only have one major female character (including the original), which is bad enough, but what makes it worse is that this movie deliberately enforces the one-woman rule. Murphy's wife becomes a major supporting character in this reboot, and therefore the character of Lewis needs to be made a man to correct for this. That has to be the thought process behind this, right? I hardly think they gender-flipped Lewis and then decided to make Clara a major character, and even if they did, it doesn't make them look much better. And even if we do accept that there can be only one major female character, I can't imagine there are a lot of people who would find an entirely passive weeping, complaining housewife to be a better character than the tough, likable, and proactive Lewis, who plays a major role in helping Murphy defeat the villains and regain his humanity in the original.

The best thing I can say about this reboot is that it has a genuinely great cast. They do their best, but they can't save this. Oh, and I guess the movie is too cool to have anyone actually utter the term "RoboCop" in it, so that's nice. Nothing like a movie indicating to you that it's embarrassed by its subject matter.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2023, 05:51:33 AM by honk »
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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2249 on: February 05, 2024, 03:36:26 AM »
Rebel Moon (Zack Snyder, 2023)

Zack Snyder's latest auteur piece begins with this fantastic image, and I immediately knew that I was in for a treat:



Rebel Moon, or to give it its full title, Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire is a fascinatingly bad movie. From a screenwriting perspective, it does everything wrong. Every line of dialogue is weird, stilted, and inhuman. Every line of exposition is clumsy and ham-fisted. Every character is a stock archetype. Every plot event is a cliché. Every individual scene appears to essentially be a pastiche or a blatant rip-off of a scene from another, better movie - and to be clear, being derivative isn't inherently a bad thing. Star Wars, Snyder's biggest influence for this movie, is famously derivative. But if you're going to take it to such an extreme that you're putting a scene from another movie into your movie, then there should be a good reason why you need that scene in your movie. The scene should contribute meaningfully to making your movie better in a way that wouldn't have been possible if you hadn't used that scene. Snyder's thought process, however, seems to have begun and ended with, "Hey, this was a cool scene; it'll be a cool scene in my movie too," and that's just not good enough. It makes the movie look less like a cohesive whole and more like a patchwork quilt of lifted scenes.

It isn't just the screenplay at fault here, though. The movie is shockingly ugly for a director whose movies you could always count on to at least look good. Snyder did the cinematography for this film himself, and the result is that while his visual style is still present, what used to look provocative and stylish now just looks ugly and out of focus. Another one of Snyder's strengths that ends up diminished in this movie is the action, mainly because of Snyder's constant use of slow motion. I don't know why Snyder keeps using slow motion more and more in his movies. In his earlier movies, he understood that it could be used effectively to emphasize impacts or other key moments. Nowadays, he just seems to think that the more slow motion he adds to any given scene, the better the scene is. As a result, virtually every action scene in this movie is mostly in slow motion. Someone falling is in slow motion. Someone firing a gun is in slow motion. Someone running is in slow motion. It's surprisingly difficult to mentally keep track of how an action scene is playing out when everything is slowed down, and more importantly, if everything is emphasized, then nothing is really emphasized. That seems like a really basic concept of directing to me.

Another baffling decision for this movie is how Snyder handles the flashback scenes. The main character, Kora, has a dark and troubled past as a soldier in this setting's brutal Warhammer 40K-style military regime (they even call it the "Imperium"), and a couple of lengthy flashbacks show what her life was like back then. All well and good - but then for some reason the movie apparently forgets that it's already showing us what's happening and Kora just starts talking over the flashbacks and explaining her life story to the audience in the most dull, undisguised exposition imaginable. Again, we are already seeing these flashbacks, we are already being shown the relevant information, and then Snyder just goes, nah, we can't trust the audience to make sense of what they're seeing, better add some commentary to spell it all out for them. This is such bad, bad filmmaking. You don't do that! You don't sit the viewer down and fucking talk at them for minutes on end for no better reason than to deliver some exposition, and especially not when you don't even need to because you already have a scene that's showing the viewer the relevant information anyway! This is very obvious, very basic storytelling. Show, don't tell. It's so elementary that it's a cliché. How does Snyder not know this?

The basic plot structure of the movie feels like a video game, and that's not a compliment. The heroes travel throughout the universe looking for people to join their rebellion against the Imperium. Every person they meet has their own unique little scene, either an action scene where they show off what they can do or a dramatic scene where they reveal more about themselves, before they join forces with the heroes and then more or less fade from the movie altogether, only emerging for the occasional group shot or odd line of dialogue. I'm reminded of nothing so much as playing a party-based RPG and only seeing the characters that you don't put in your party in between missions. A relatively minor change would have made the setup much, much better - just have the heroes ask each character they recruit to meet up with them on the planet they were protecting at a certain time, they go their separate ways, and then the conclusion where the characters arrive at the planet would also be a reunion, ending the movie and setting the stage for the next part of the duology on a much stronger, more dramatic note. It would still be a bad movie, of course, because of all the other shit in it, but we'd at least be spared the awkwardness of the new recruits tagging along after the heroes with nothing to do.

I've said before that focusing on "plot holes" or general sort of "why did they do this/why did this happen" critiques is inherently very weak, very superficial film criticism, and its rise in popularity in recent years is genuinely one of the worst things that the rise of social media and the increasing prominence of fandom has done to film. I can't resist pointing out that there are plenty of bewildering examples of inexplicable plot events and character decisions in this movie that'll jump out at you even if you're not looking for them, but fair is fair - they're trivial nitpicks in comparison to the movie's fundamental, material problems, and so I won't dwell on them. The one nitpick I will focus on simply because of how incredibly distracting I found it is how obviously young this movie's Palpatine analogue is:



Zack, if you're going to insist on casting an actor in his thirties to play the adoptive father of a character played by Sofia Boutella (this actor is in fact a few years younger than Boutella), then you've got to do a better job with makeup. Giving this guy a silly fake beard with gray flecks in it just isn't convincing when we can clearly see his babyface underneath it. I know this is the nitpickiest of nitpicks, but it's so amateurish and distracting.

There are not one, but two scenes of sexual assault in this movie, and this is genuinely one element of the movie that I didn't enjoy even ironically. It really feels like Snyder is well behind the curve on this subject. In a time when high-profile films and TV shows are putting more and more effort into treating the subject of sexual assault more delicately and responsibly, such as by putting the emphasis on the victim rather than the hero who saves her or avoiding depicting it onscreen when possible, Snyder comes along like a bull in a china shop and whips out the old trope in exactly the same hacky, dated way that he always has, the same way that pop culture has largely moved past by now. I'm not going to preach or lecture to anyone, but a depiction of sexual assault in this day and age that's as nasty and prolonged as this one comes across as deeply insensitive, and I can't help suspecting that it was deliberately provocative on Snyder's part, as doubling down on controversial elements of his movies in an attempt to defiantly ram them into his critics' faces is something that he's done in the past on more than one occasion.

That last detail aside, I actually really enjoyed Rebel Moon. This might actually be Snyder's first so-bad-it's-good movie, at least for me, because he gets everything so perfectly wrong. Unlike in his previous movies, there are no good acting performances or striking action scenes to dilute the badness on display. It's just a pure, unfiltered disaster, and I was riveted from start to finish. I don't know if anyone here would really be interested in this movie based on what I've said - are Crudblud and Snupes still watching bad movies together? They might like it! - but for me, I honestly can't wait for the upcoming second part and extended version of this movie.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2024, 07:54:05 PM by honk »
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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2250 on: July 03, 2024, 11:26:39 AM »
After a long—some might say too long—wait, the Odyssey continues!

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (dir. Zack Snyder)

Sometimes you just don’t know where to begin. Films are made up of so many different elements, plot, screenplay, cinematography, acting, editing, music, yet none of these is an adequate place to begin talking about Dawn of Justice, one of the most bafflingly inept and artistically bankrupt films I have ever seen. There may even be nothing I can say about it that isn’t both true and yet wholly insufficient to capture the depth of its stupidity, the shallowness of its ethos, the absurdity of its drama, or the banality of its action. I am therefore presenting this review as an admission of defeat. This is not the exhaustive catalogue of faults that I wanted it to be when I started writing, nor is it really a good summation of the film’s themes and concepts. It is perhaps better understood as a cry for help. I still haven’t seen the four hour cut of Justice League, but based on the state of my brain after three hours of Dawn of Justice I think that review will be even worse than this one. Nonetheless I have to begin somewhere, and I suppose a reasonable enough starting place, by which we may find our bearings out in the barren wilds of rural Snyder country, is its direct predecessor Man of Steel. In that film we witness the origin of Superman, which more or less amounts to things exploding and people being killed to little purpose, but what I’d like to draw your attention to, because it will be crucial to our understanding of Dawn of Justice, is its philosophy of drama. From Kevin Costner’s gusty goodbye to Zod’s sleeve-singeing swansong, so many moments in Man of Steel were contrived purely to yell ‘this is dramatic!’ at the audience without ever actually earning that impression. In Dawn of Justice this contrivance of the dramatic is amplified by orders of magnitude. There isn’t a single ‘dramatic moment’ that doesn’t exist purely to fulfil Snyder’s ends without means approach to drama; logic, significance, pacing, and character development be damned. If you thought the neck-snapping finale of Man of Steel was outrageously stupid, you know exactly what kind of idiocy awaits here.

The film opens with a flashback to a thing that has never been shown in a film before—that’s right, never!—Bruce Wayne’s parents being killed. Maybe this works for people who have never seen a Batman movie before but good god, in this version it is particularly silly. Adult Bruce monologues about things falling and having fallen in the falling fall of the fall that falls as Martha Wayne’s pearls, which are inexplicably wrapped around her attacker’s gun, fall (geddit? geddit? eh? eh?) to the ground in excruciating slow motion. This is the first of many, many ‘dramatic moments’ in the film which exist only for themselves. It would perhaps be not completely different, but significantly dissimilar nonetheless, if these were aesthetic moments which existed for themselves; many great and not-so-great films from all over the world feature moments in which they extrapolate and disentangle aesthetic beauty from their own drama for the simple purpose of expressing something beautiful. No, in Snyder’s filmworld the aesthetic is the body, the dramatic a sudden stabbing interpolation, inserted arbitrarily and retracted in much the same way; he puts the cart before the horse, the super before the hero. After all, a hero is so with or without powers, but a superhuman has yet to define themselves one way or the other. Appropriately then Snyder cuts from Bruce’s memories of mum, dad, and a hole full of bats, to adult Bruce, modelled on the apparently omnipresent spectre of Frank Miller’s middle-aged Batman, bearing witness to the events of Man of Steel so that we can see those awfully thrilling scenes in which Superman destroys local infrastructure to the tune of billions of dollars for no apparent reason in soft focus and from a different angle. Anyway, while in the distance a blue-and-red blob throws a dark grey blob around—or rather through—Metropolis, Bruce drives around in an SUV, also for no apparent reason, and then stumbles upon a handful of injured survivors, most of whom will never be seen or heard from again.

One of the major exceptions to the vanishing victims of Superman, and who even reappears a whole two times, is Guy With No Legs, hereafter referred to as ‘Guy’, a moniker which I’m sure will not become confusing at all. Guy is one of several people determined to wage war on Superman, and also the least well placed to do it. He has no powers, no gadgets, no weapons, no money, indeed he is just a guy with no legs, hence the name. If his wheelchair were a rocket-powered death machine with lasers and missiles then maybe, just maybe, he could cause Superman some small amount of pain and pause for thought, but alas. Guy has however mastered the art of parkour without legs, and so he climbs a monument to Superman and defaces it with graffiti. He is promptly arrested. Later he appears before a tribunal to testify against Superman, and then he, or someone else, literally explodes. It’s somewhat confusing, Senator Holly Hunter realises she has been drinking from a jar of piss, and then the room explodes. Said jar of piss was placed there somehow by Lex Luthor, who also spoke to Guy some time before the hearing. Was it Holly’s magical piss jar or was Guy’s wheelchair full of missiles after all? Well, that’s just one of those mysteries. Nothing in the film moves by some logic of human interactions, developments, whatever, only by the very much visible hand of the director moving his dolls about the scene on a whim. Yes, it has been a moment since something ‘dramatic’ happened, thus therefore ergo: an exploding jar of piss courtesy of Lex Luthor and the most lax government security known to mankind.

Now, you might be wondering why in the world I would devote so much time to a character whose defining feature is that he doesn’t have legs when the film has ‘Batman v Superman’ in the title, which on the surface at least promises far more interesting discussion. The reason is that, while Batman and Superman are undoubtedly more important characters in the narrative, Guy is a perfect example of the film’s and by extension Snyder’s dramatic philosophy. There’s no point talking about Batman or Superman or even Lex Luthor until you get your head around that basic problem. Guy did not appear in Man of Steel, and perhaps if we had had a scene in that film in which Guy suffers his terrible injury while Superman ignores his cries for help, we may have had some real dramatically compelling material. Instead he is only here now, and seemingly for the sole purpose of being found by Bruce. His later appearances hint at something more interesting than anything in the actual film, but we never get to see it, we are only told about it. And then he explodes and dies. Luthor exploits Guy’s anger and pain, which again we never really see the cause of, his plan with the explosive death by jar of piss seemingly to be to add to the growing public understanding that destruction inescapably follows in Superman’s wake, and to foment anti-superhuman sentiment more generally. It’s hard to believe, like The Dark Knight’s Harvey Dent falling for the edgy teen anarchism of the Joker, Guy taking Luthor’s bait, but once again we can perhaps assume that Snyder thought it best not to show the parts that establish why characters do stuff, after all that would only get in the way of the drama. Luthor speaks in outwardly pithy but typically meaningless soundbites—and okay, to be fair, so does basically everyone else in this movie—one of which is ‘[the oldest American lie] is that power can be innocent’. Now, you might be thinking this is an insightful comment on America as the world’s policeman, America the Superman to the common men of other nations, but no, that’s it, it ends there, and nothing else comes of it. Luthor, like so many characters in the film, constantly sidles up to some promised profoundity but never actually makes it all the way there, the plethora of platitudes thrown like confetti only serving to lay bare the meagreness of his, and by extension the film’s philosophy.

Lex Luthor truly is one of the worst portrayals of any character in a comic book movie, maybe even as bad as Jim Carrey in Batman Forever if not worse. It’s hard to tell if a bad serious performance is worse than a bad comedic performance. (By the way, why is it that it’s always a Batman movie?) It’s like Snyder handed Jesse Eisenberg a beer-stained napkin bearing only the words ‘eccentric billionaire’, winked, and then left without explaining anything, pretending on all subsequent meetings that he couldn’t hear Jesse asking questions because of a series of increasingly incredible obstructions to the ear. Eisenberg, who had previously portrayed Mark ‘Smoking These Meats’ Zuckerberg in The Social Network, could perhaps have stood to take some examples from actual eccentric billionaire behaviour, although I have to wonder how much of it was left up to him and how much of it was Snyder thinking that random noises, mythological references, and classical literary quotations made his version of Luthor appear sophisticated. In either case, Eisenberg learned a powerful lesson, I hope, which is that when life gives you lemons covered in shit, you’re going to make shit-flavoured lemonade. Nonetheless Eisenberg can’t be fully let off the hook, he did after all do everything necessary to make what ended up on screen happen with his performance. Snyder, since he somehow keeps getting work, needs to be surrounded at all times by people who are willing to tell him ‘no’, Eisenberg’s failure to do so here made the film even worse than it otherwise would have been. Granted, that’s not saying much, and to restate the point: Luthor’s lemonade, dark brown and pungent though it may be, is really only as bad as the lemons it’s made from.

Our two superlemons, Batman and Superman, are seemingly defined for Snyder by one thing: their mothers are both named Martha. The first time we hear the name is in the very beginning, as Thomas Wayne has some kind of a Rosebud moment after being shot. Later on Lex Luthor says ‘Martha Martha Martha’ and reveals to Superman that yes, he knows all his secrets, and is holding his mother hostage in a secret location! Worse yet, the location will only be revealed if Superman finds and kills Batman! If only there were some kind of superhero with super hearing who can move at supersonic speeds and who could locate Martha from many miles away and save her. Well, no such hero exists, and so Superman goes to find and kill Batman, who is intent on finding and killing Superman, because there was once a guy who had legs, and his name was Guy, and Guy has no legs now, and that means people with superpowers are evil. After having an idiot contest for what feels like an hour, Batman and Superman decide to try talking, discovering within seconds that it is a much better way of learning about and understanding each other. Thus a truce is arrived at, and Batman flies off to rescue Superman’s mum. For the life of me I can’t understand why. In the time it takes Batman to get into his plane, Superman could have flown in, taken her, and flown back. But I guess Bats has to do something. It’s perplexing that this is the thing Snyder has Batman do on screen when we see the aftermath of his one-man raid on LexCorp, which would undoubtedly have been far more entertaining to actually witness in full. Regardless, we do get to see Batman hit a thug into a wall so hard that a bloody smear trails the back of his head, and I think we can all agree that that’s what Batman is all about.

So Superman’s an idiot, and Batman’s a killer, is there anyone else who can maybe come to our aid? The Batcomputer saves the day with trailers for other DC heroes for some reason. It’s sort of like back in the old days when you’d get a free demo disc with your PlayStation game, except nothing on it is good. Credit where credit’s due though, Snyder was the best part of a decade ahead of Netflix’s free with ads subscription model. I’m not sure who in-universe put these videos together but their choice of footage needs some work. First off we get a few pictures of Wonder Woman, one of which is actually a pretty good looking facsimile of a photo from 1918, so props to whoever made that, you were a shining light in the darkness of this production. For some reason this one is on its own, while the other three, for Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg respectively, are played together in one sequence. Even more confusingly, these three are shown from Wonder Woman’s perspective, who decides, as Lex Luthor’s Kryptonian monster maker machine knocks out Metropolis’s power grid, that now is the perfect time to watch videos with dramatic music on her laptop. Cut to Ezra Miller flashing (no, not like that, although I can see why you would think so) an armed robber while purchasing groceries; Aquaman veeeeery slooooowly destroying a camera; and Cyborg without legs pinned to a wall—more like Guyborg, ha ha ha. So they’ve got it all, a fast guy, a slow guy, a Guy guy, and add to that a gadget guy, an alien guy, and an Amazon guyrl. Only the last of these will actually make a real appearance here, but that’s fine because Justice League is next, yay! We also get an ad for an Injustice type storyline in which Lois Lane’s murder turns Superman into literally Hitler and Batman wears a trenchcoat over his Batsuit. I’m honestly not sure who’s worse between them in that scenario. Of course, the answer is always Zack Snyder, a man with the storytelling instinct of a ten year old playing with action figures and making boom zoom nyowww kapowww noises.

Throughout the film Superman is depicted as a Christ-like figure. Hordes of commoners reach out to touch him as if his glory will rub off on them and cure whatever malady—being human, perhaps—afflicts them, while authorities and systems of power view and treat him with suspicion at best and contempt at worst. Naturally the film ends with his death, a sacrifice to stop a much bigger threat, Doomsday, made by mixing Zod’s immaculately preserved corpse with Lex Luthor’s own blood in a giant bath filled with that sweet sweet lemonade in the aforementioned Kryptonian monster maker machine. Doomsday is basically Abomination from Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk, but I guess considerably more powerful since Superman can’t beat him alone. For some reason Wonder Woman, who has been lurking around disguised as a mere human lady for most of the movie, decides that now is the time to do something about stuff, and decides that a good way to do something about stuff is to barely use her powers. Ultimately a Kryptonite-tipped spear fashioned by Batman saves the day, but Superman must be pierced by it also. There was no way anyone could have just circled around a bit and pierced Doomsday through the side or something. Well of course not, you mocker, you naysayer, you clown, you doofus! If they did that then it wouldn’t be a patented Snyder ‘dramatic moment’™! And really what are we all here for if not unearned pathos and pseudo-poetic ramblings to no purpose? Regardless, we discover in the final shot that Superman isn’t actually dead so none of that mattered anyway. And that’s the Snyder philosophy of drama, baby. If you don’t like it you can leave!

Reviewing the extended cut of this film, having to actually acknowledge it as an experience that I had, to think and write about it, has been one of the most unpleasant passages of time in my life, I’m quite sure. And I’m only employing trace amounts of hyperbole when I say that. Three hours of morons reciting terrible dialogue that manages somehow to be both platitudinous and vague at the same time. A foetid smorgasbord of almost random and very much pointless scenes half of which could very easily be cut down for a 90 minute experience that, while still mind-boggling in its stupidity, would at least be over much faster. Last but not least, iconic characters who basically perform the function of action figures to be posed to little or no purpose. And I suppose that’s really the problem. There is no point. You could make the case that maybe that’s the film’s argument, that we are doomed to misunderstand and quarrel with each other over stupid things and that even superbeings from other worlds who possess the power of gods are marked by this frailty as well, but my point is not that Bats ‘n’ Supes should have realised that the real Dawn of Justice was the friends we made along the way, but that Snyder should have had some artistic point that he was aiming at, around which the characters and plots coalesced into some unified vision. It simply doesn’t happen, it’s not there. I’ve seen this film twice in different cuts and neither time did I recognise any sort of understanding on the part of the director of what he thought he was doing. His ad hoc justifications after the fact can only be a balm to those who are already predisposed to agree with him, children in adult bodies for whom action figures are not toys but symbols of something deeper which they are tragically and perfectly incapable of articulating. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was made by an idiot for idiots. It is a gigantic, steaming, reeking pile of shit, full of lemons.

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Re: Just Watched
« Reply #2251 on: July 06, 2024, 02:07:32 PM »
Justice League (dir. Zack Snyder / Joss Whedon)

As promised by Dawn of Justice, the Justice League get their own feature length outing in the appropriately titled Justice League. This film is perhaps better known for its production difficulties, and its being a precursor to a fan campaign for the release of Zack Snyder’s four hour cut, which was put out by HBO in 2021, than it is for anything that actually happens in it. Zack Snyder was forced to step down from the director’s chair by a family tragedy, and perennial hack Joss Whedon was brought in to attempt to smooth things over with rewrites and reshoots. It didn’t work. While Whedon’s helming of the first big MCU team-up movie The Avengers—released in the UK as Avengers Assemble, in order to avoid confusion with the very relevant and current British TV show The Avengers, which is about a man named Steed who wears a bowler hat and has a cane sword—which now that I think about it is definitely cooler than the actual movie——was undoubtedly a major success, his quippy levity here sits ungainly alongside Snyder’s empty portent.

The story is as complicated or as basic as you want it to be by virtue of a lot of stuff happening to no real significance. There is an alien called Steppenwolf, and he was born to be wild! No, in fact he was born to be a space terrorist or something. He hops through dimensional portals looking for the infinity stones mother boxes which when combined will make everything go a bit Color Out of Space in order to resemble his homeworld for some reason. At one point Steppy mentions Darkseid, with the implication that Step-To-the-Beat is working for him, but Darkseid never shows up or does anything, so it’s unknown what the master plan is there. A long time ago Steppenwolf was banished from Earth by a coalition of Amazonian and Atlantean forces, and the mother boxes were scattered and hidden away. However, Step-On-Up has no difficulty finding these in the present day and is also basically impervious to everyone. That is until the Justice League uses one of the boxes to resurrect Superman, who is so amazing and perfect that Steppenwolf actively begins to lose power as a result, to the point that even Aquaman, who spends most of the movie being completely useless, even in situations where his powers should be at their most potent, can beat him. Steppenwolf gets scared, and his army of fear feeding fly fiends descends upon him, forcing him to retreat. And that’s it.

To call this film bad is to invite some comparison to previous DCEU outings. Is it as bad as Man of Steel or Dawn of Justice? In some ways it is, while in others it manages to be just bland and forgettable enough not to be. The most obvious problem that develops as the film goes on is its cast of heroes, there are simply too many to do justice (ha ha) to, and while three of them are semi-known entities from previous films, the rest are just sort of there to the point that their existences, powers, and purposes are mostly known through exposition. My favourite part might be when Wonder Woman tells Cyborg that she had a common life experience and that she had to deal with it. It’s not just that the dialogue and delivery are stunningly ham-fisted, but that this exchange somehow convinces Cyborg that being alive is good actually. As much as I make fun of the pretence towards depth in Snyder’s previous films, this film is particularly brazen in not even attempting to veil the fact that its drama is a literal flat 2D plane. I don’t actually know how much of what we see in this film is Snyder’s or Whedon’s ‘vision’, but my conclusion from this and from previous experiences is that both of them need to stop, and possibly see a therapist.

The film’s visuals are no delight either. From its chained sequences of establishing shots to its often shockingly poor special effects, the film is neither artistically nor technically compelling. It is marred by uncontrolled and purposeless excess in all elements, from the number of shots it takes to do something extremely basic, to the near constant movement of the camera. Its shots, which are almost entirely mock epic in scope and minuscule in impact, do nothing to help the storytelling. It is a film made by someone who, per the credits, wrote the script but did not read it. I suppose this is a roundabout way of saying that the film is boring, like stupefyingly boring. Where previous DCEU films were often hilariously bad, there is barely anything to make fun of here, or rather it makes fun of itself simply by existing in the form that it does. Whoever signed off on this at Warner Bros. was a fucking idiot. Forget Snyder, forget Whedon, forget whoever edited it, the fault here ultimately lies with execs who were too stupid to say ‘no’. You put up a budget of $300 million and not only is this what you get back, not only that, but you’re happy with it? Are you kidding? Are you pranking me bro? Fucking what. It didn’t even do that well, just barely making back double its budget. Who thought it was a good idea to put it out this way? I’m not saying you could have gotten a much better movie with more time, but it could have been a little bit less… whatever you want to call this. It’s so bland that my vocabulary fails me.
 
A quick note on the music, which kept pissing me right off, and while for the most part is as nondescript as that which it accompanies, does actually speak somewhat to the inability of DC to really let go of its cinematic past. Quotes from Danny Elfman’s Batman and John Williams’s Superman scores litter the soundscape here, and every time they pop up I feel a certain ire well up within me like stomach acid into my oesophagus. You failed to do justice (ha ha ×2) to them in the first place, laying waste to and burying Tim Burton’s expressionist fairy-tale Batman outings under Joel Schumacher’s insulting cack, and making worse and worse sequels to Richard Donner’s lovably silly Superman. Don’t extend them now as olive branches to people who expect a bare minimum of competence from writers and directors, please. The return of Michael Keaton’s Batman in the final Snyder-verse movie The Flash was a welcome enough piece of fanservice, but he undoubtedly didn’t really fit into that world. Similarly, trying to inject the swashbuckling triumph of those Elfman and Williams themes into this dour, miserable, barely-registering-as-a-movie movie is not merely an insulting reminder of better times and better movies for DC heroes, it’s also just plain incongruous.

Justice League is a bad movie that seems less bad than it is when taken in the context of its predecessors. Its characters, plot, action, pacing, cinematography and special effects are all dismal, and its one saving grace may be—with its first set of credits (the funniest thing about Justice League may be its confident teasing of sequels that will never happen) appearing under the one hour and fifty minute mark—that it farts along and runs out of gas quickly compared to Snyder’s previous efforts. Some time after its release, Snyder was content to start talking up his alleged original allegedly a vision for the film, which engendered a massive fan campaign that was actually successful. I’m always amazed when something that seems primarily to exist on Twitter and Reddit manifests in the form of something actually happening. Cue the four hour long Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a torturous task as daunting and dreadful as any I can think of in the cinematic world. The best thing I can say about this theatrical cut is that it didn’t make me want to scream, if only because it didn’t really make much of an impression at all. And with that I say justice has been done!